Category Archives: Muhammad Alshareef
Muhammad Alshareef was born and raised in Canada. In his youth, he memorized the Quran and later graduated with an Islamic Law degree from the Islamic University of Madinah, class of 1999. He is the founder of AlMaghrib Institute through which he teaches university-level seminars on Islam. AlMaghrib Institute seminars have been conducted across the USA, Canada, and the UK.
Sahl Ibn Sa’d radi Allahu anhu narrates that RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
“In Jannah, there is a gate called Ar-Rayyan: a door which the Saa’imoon will enter from, no one else except them. It will be announced, ‘Where are the Saa’imoon?’ and the Saa’imoon will stand. No one except them will enter from the gate called Rayyan.”
Have you ever heard of a weekend warrior? They are employees who sit in cubicles and relax at a coffee station, weighed down with donuts all week long. Then on the weekend, they rip off their suits bearing their Reebok gear underneath and spend the entire weekend playing basketball, hang gliding, and mountain climbing. What happens? They break their knees, pull a dozen muscles, and are hospitalized on Monday.
This is in relation to the physical body. But there are people that should be known as Ramadan warriors. They are those that haven’t fasted all year long and then shock their bodies with a whole month. Or haven’t prayed in the masjid or haven’t woken up to pray in the night all year long. What happens to them? As one Muslim doctor said, “In normal days, we have about 5 to 7 patients a day. On the first day of Ramadan, the patients increase to over 50!”
Ramadan warriors were rare in our Islamic history. To illustrate, let’s all remember where we were at the beginning of Safar. We were probably praying for work to end, or just finished up with exams, or looking through brochures for a holiday getaway.
Interestingly, if we were sitting beside a Tabi’oon over a thousand years ago in a simple masjid, we would have heard him raising his hands asking Allah to grant him the blessing of being around when a guest comes, a guest called Ramadan!
There are different ways that we can ‘warm up’ for Ramadan. One of those ways is by increasing the frequency of our du’a. Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala says in the Qur’an, with the verse before it talking about Ramadan and the verse after it speaking about Ramadan, and right in the middle we read:
And when My servants ask you, (O Muhammad), concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me (by obedience) and believe in Me that they may be guided (Al-Baqarah 2/186).
Every goodness on earth is from Allah. And one of the most exclusive blessings is Ramadan. So let us ask the Lord of Ramadan to help us find His mercy in the coming days.
I once gave a khutbah on Hajj entitled The Call of Ibrahim. A brother told me that during that khutbah he raised his hands to Allah and asked Allah to find him a way to make Hajj. He said that he had no money to make the trip, but that night more than one brother approached him with the offer, “Brother, we have a Hajj program for new Muslims, would you like to come?” Alhamdulillah, that brother made Hajj that year from a du’a that came straight from the heart, in sha Allah.
The early generations of the ummah used to make du’a 6 months after Ramadan that Allah accept their deeds in Ramadan. And for the next 6 months, they would make du’a to Allah to grant them the blessing of being alive in the coming Ramadan.
Cleanliness – Whenever a guest comes, we prepare in advance for his arrival by vacuuming the carpet, dusting the shelves, and scrubbing the sinks. We should do this for our guest called Ramadan. But the scrubbing should not just be of our physical surroundings; it should include the scrubbing of our sins.
Listen to the words of RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam speaking about those people that don’t want to clean up for Ramadan:
“Whoever doesn’t desist from speaking falsehood and acting upon it, Allah has no need that he desist from his food and drink” (Bukhari).
Fasting in Sha’baan (the month before Ramadan) – The biggest downfall of the weekend warriors was that they were not properly warmed up for the exercise, which caused the injuries. Similarly, when fasting, some people only do it once a year, making their bodies very foreign to going without food and drink.
From here we see the following Sunnah: Umm Al-Mu’mineen Aisha radi Allahu anha observes, “Allah’s Messenger never fasted an entire month other than Ramadan and I haven’t seen him fast more than he did in Sha’baan.”
A poet said:
Oh ye who isn’t satisfied with his sins in Rajab
So much so that you continued disobedience in Sha’baan,
The month of fasting has now come upon you
So do not convert it also to a month of disobedience.
When we look at the celebrations of ‘the holy days’ of this country, we see that they put all their time and effort and spirit in preparation. I tell you, go to any store outside this masjid and you will see preparations of candy canes, red and green bouquets, even eggnog all in the wait for the annual celebration of the birth – as they falsely claim- of Prophet ‘Eesa alayhis salaam. They are preparing for their falsehood almost 2 months in advance! One of the ways to prepare for Ramadan is to educate ourselves in the Fiqh of Ramadan. Alhamdulillah, sitting in this masjid today are many brothers and sisters for whom this will be their first Ramadan. Allahu Akbar! May Allah accept it from them and allow them and us to share in the blessing of Ramadan for many years to come.
Let us briefly review what fasting is:
Fasting in Ramadan is not optional – it is a must. The evidence for this is found in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Allah says:
O you who believe! Observing as-sawn (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al-muttaqoon (the righteous) (Al-Baqarah 2/183).
The Prophet (salAllaahu alayhi wa sallaam) said:
“Islam is built on five (pillars)…” among which he mentioned fasting in Ramadan (Bukhari).
The Arabic word for fasting is sawm. In Arabic, it literally means to abstain from something. And in Islamic Law, it is to abstain from those things that break the fast starting from dawn (Fajr prayer) and ending with sunset (Maghrib prayer) having first made the intention to do so.
The things which break one’s fast, the things which he or she must abstain from, from dawn to sunset, are as follows: eating and drinking, and marital relations.
These apply if 3 conditions are met: that the person is not ignorant that this thing breaks one’s fast, that he is aware that he is doing something that breaks his fast (meaning he did not do so in forgetfulness), and he does so out of his free will and no one forced him to break his fast.
In conclusion, as the month of Ramadan draws nearer, we should prepare for this special guest by preparing a Ramadan program (‘Operation: Valuable Time’) in our homes and at our masajid.
The program should in sha Allah include:
1. Locked times of the day when we will consistently recite Qur’an, learning its meanings and memorizing new surahs.
2. Something useful for the time before Taraweeh prayers and the time after Taraweeh. And how to increase our worship in the last ten nights – i.e. what will we do extra.
3. We should make sure that there are days of this month when we feed people. Bring dates or milk to the masjid for Maghrib. Invite people over to have dinner with your family. Organize a dinner in the masjid and invite people that don’t normally get invited because they are new. Take care of the new Muslims in your community and for the sake of Allah ta’aala make their Ramadan special.
4. Make the intention to double and triple the amount of sadaqah we give, the worship we normally do, the dhikr we do, and the deeds that’ll help us purify our souls.
5. And finally, for those that can afford it, plan an Umrah to the Ka’bah in Ramadan!
After returning from the Farewell Hajj, RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam saw an Ansari woman who had not made the Hajj. He asked her, “What kept you back from joining in the Hajj?”
She said, “We had a camel that we used to ride which Abu Fulan and his son went on, and another we used for farming.”
So, RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Verily, Umrah in Ramadan is the same (reward) as performing Hajj with me” (Bukhari and Muslim)!
Hasn’t there come upon man a period of time when they were nothing remembered (Al-Insaan 76/1).
Imagine that you are four years old and on the beach. The camp leader has told you that you have five minutes to build a great castle. “Quickly,” your three-year-old Ameer tells you, “the sand here is too soft. Run closer to the water and get better sand!”
Off you run and grab, with your tiny hands, as much sand as you can hold. But, as you run back, plop, plop, plop, you feel the sand slipping through your fingers and you can do nothing about it. In your haste, all the sand has slipped away. Bang. The competition is over. This is the analogy of our lives; this is the analogy of our time in Ramadan.
For many living in western countries, Ramadan is passed daily with 9 to 5 jobs or school, nights where we may or may not go for taraweeh, a peak at the TV (may Allaah protect us), and the night is over. Then, back to work where people everywhere are eating and drinking from crystal water fountains. Blink. Ramadan is over.
The question of the hour is – how do we take full advantage of this gift of Allaah? This is our topic – before the sands of Ramadan slip away.
How many years have we been fasting Ramadan? Ten, 15 or 40 years? Are we 10, 15 or 40 times better? Or, does it seem like we have arrived back at the drawing board every time Ramadan comes around? All acts of worship are for our own benefit! If we don’t do it, harm befalls us, which is the way life was programmed.
Ramadan is no small matter. It is one of the pillars of this deen (Islam) and without it one’s Islam would not be complete. In this month, RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam would intensify his worship of Allaah ta’aala. In doing so, he laid the foundation for his ummah after him to emulate.
Ibn Al Qayyim rahimahu Allah wrote: “From his, sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam’s, blessed guidance in Ramadan, is that he used to intensify and diversify his actions of worship. So, for example, Jibreel used to rehearse the Qur’an with him during the nights of Ramadan. When Jibreel would visit him, he would intensify the amount of sadaqah that he would give. He, sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam was the most generous out of all people and Ramadan was the time when he was most generous. In Ramadan, he would fill his time with sadaqah, treating people kindly, reciting Qur’an, performing salah, remembering Allaah, and performing itikaaf” (Zaad Al Ma’aad).
Observers described the way Allaah’s Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam gave like ar-reeh al-mursalah – like the blessed wind. Why? The blessed wind, as they knew it, was a wind that brought coolness to everyone – no one was denied its blessing. Additionally, the blessed wind was not lazy in bringing its goodness to the people; it would come swiftly to all. This is how RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam was described, and this is how our service to humanity should be – swift and encompassing. Bi idhnillah.
Below are 10 ideas to help make the most of Ramadan, before it slips through our hands.
Idea #1: Compound Your Siyaam!
If you told your financial broker that you just want to keep money in the bank and save it, he would say, “You are wrong. Invest it in the stock market so your money will be compounded. You will earn multiple times what you put in.” So now I ask the question: Wouldn’t you love to get two times the reward of fasting Ramadan? How does that sound?
Zayd ibn Khaalid AlJuhanee narrates that the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
“Whoever gives a fasting person (food) to break his or her fast, he (the one providing the food) will get the reward equivalent to the (fasting person’s) reward, without diminishing anything from the reward of the (fasting person).”
How do we do this? Ask any Muslim relief agency if they have a ‘feed a fasting person’ program. Subhan Allaah, you may find that it only costs $1 to feed a person! So, for $30 you could come out of Ramadan having doubled your reward.
And, we should not forget the needy in our city. We think that in a ‘modern’ western country or city there are no needy people. This is far from the truth. There are many needy families that are waiting to be discovered. Ask around and you will find a gold mine of people to help in your own backyard.
I speak about Washington, DC. If one was to have a food drive, all the food could go to needy Muslim families in DC and still not be enough! I’ve seen this with my own eyes. How blessed it would be to get the youth that just hang out in the back of the masjid during taraweeh to take on this task. They could organize the collection of the food and distribute it. It can happen! All it takes is a leader with vision to set this up for the youth, and all the good people who want to make a difference.
Idea #2: Operation Guide the Youth
Often in Ramadan there are khaatirahs, words of wisdom, halaqahs and reminders, all geared to the adults praying taraweeh. The youth it seems are being disrespectful by talking in the back of the masjid.
“Shhhhhsh!” someone shouts at them. “Listen or go outside (and we prefer if you just go outside)!” So, quietly they sneak out of the masjid and chat and chill all Ramadan. How eman boosting is that? Remember, Allaah commands that you protect your wife and children.
Try this: Just like there are things for the adults, we could have Ramadan activities and reminders geared specifically for the youth. And, it need not be in the masjid. Let’s say the youth like to chat and chill outside in the parking lot. Why not organize the activity there? Perhaps it could be on the basketball court or in the parking lot. Have a 5 minute khatirah, play games with them, and give them some noble projects to complete in Ramadan.
Again, making a difference like this needs a leader with a vision, one who recognizes that the youth are his or her responsibility. I pray that person is you!
Idea #3: TV Turnoff Month
Every parent knows that when they want their child to do well in their studies they tell them, “No TV!” If this is what we do for the dunya then how about someone who wants to excel in Ramadan?
“Fasting and the Qur’an will come and testify on behalf of the ‘abd on the Day of Resurrection. The Fasting will say, ‘O My Lord, I denied him food and desires, so allow me to be a means for him to enter Paradise.’ And the Qur’an will say, ‘O My Lord, I denied him sleep at night so allow me to be a means for him to enter Paradise.’ And (he will be entered into Paradise) because of those two” (Musnad Ahmad).
Try this: Announce in your household that Ramadan is the official TV Turnoff Month. Be an example for others and do fun and rewarding things instead. Visit people, take on a Ramadan feeding project, increase yourself in knowledge, etc. Turn off the TV and turn on life!
Idea #4: Dua’ Time
Ramadan is the month of making du’a to Allaah, an essential compliment to fasting. RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
“There are three persons’ du’a that will be accepted (by Allaah). The fasting person, the oppressed one, and the traveler.”
Try this: Make a list of all your goals in life. Make a section for your (a) personal goals (b) spiritual goals (c) economic goals and (d) contribution goals. Everyday during Ramadan, take out your list and make du’a to Allaah to grant you the tawfeeq to accomplish your goals. In sha Allaah, you will attain your goals with hard work, both during and after Ramadan.
Idea #5: Parent Appreciation Month
We all know that the one who wakes us up for suhoor is our mom. I know that was true for me in my house growing up. If it wasn’t for her alarm clock, her early morning cooking, her motherly love to go and wake everyone up, our iftars would have become our suhoors. If you are living away from your parents, you know what I’m talking about.
Remember the hadith of the person who doesn’t reach Ramadan with forgiveness? The end part of the hadith says they found their parents in old age and they were not a means for him to enter Jannah!
So why not announce it loud and clear this month, “Thank you, Mom! Thank you, Dad!” Let’s take care of them this month with extra calls, extra hugs, and extra love.
Idea #6: Masjid Power Hour
During Ramadan, why not spend a few more moments in the masjid before taking off. This could be done after Fajr or Asr. Sit back, grab a Qur’an and remember Allaah. As your time in the masjid increases, bi idhnillaah, your love and heart attachment will increase as well. Make this your personal masjid power hour.
Idea #7: Bad Habit Buster
Some people may have a smoking problem or a TV addiction. When Ramadan comes around, many of them say, “I’m going to train myself to stop smoking or to stop watching excessive TV by abandoning it throughout Ramadan.”
So you don’t have a smoking problem huh? Well everyone has some bad habit and everyone has some recurring sin they pray they could desist from. Make Ramadan the training month by telling yourself to go without this sin for the entire month. Then, if Allaah grants you tawfeeq to complete the month, you should continue to pray to Allah to keep you away from the sin after Ramadan.
Idea #8: The Gift Groove
Have you ever noticed how beloved a bottle of perfume is when it is handed out by a little four-year-old Muslim? Everyone loves a gift.
Why not take this a step forward? Go to your local Islamic bookstore and request a bulk purchase of some beneficial Islamic materials – something in the $1 range. Then, hand it out to everyone that comes to your masjid. Bi idhnillaah, you will find for the little effort you put, people throughout Ramadan will be learning from that gift.
Idea #9: Ramadan Muslims Convert!
It is true that on the first day of Ramadan, a considerable amount of Muslims multiply in the masjid. It is also a sad moment on the first day after Ramadan, that the masjid attendance drops significantly. This idea is Operation No More Ramadan Muslims. We want people all year long!
A man came to Ibn Abbas while he was doing i’tikaaf in the masjid and asked him for his assistance. Ibn Abbas stood to leave with the man and people around him warned, “But you are in i’tikaaf.” He replied, “To assist my brother in fulfilling his need is more beloved to me than to perform i’tikaaf for 2 months in The Masjid of RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam.”
Try this: Make a ‘compassion crew’ that reaches out specifically to Ramadan Muslims. Extra special attention is showered on them and roles of responsibility are delegated to them so that they can participate more in the masjid. Invite them to special iftars where they are the center of attention. With this extra attention and responsibility, bi idhnillaah, every month will be Ramadan for them, and the masajid will be full all year.
Idea #10: Home Halaqah
Muslim families often keep their worship for the masjid, so why not make Muslim family time at home. It could work like this: After taraweeh or Asr, the family gathers together for 15 minutes. There are many things you could do in your halaqah, however, the main point is that you set time aside for it.
For example, each family member may recite a few verses of Qur’an. Or, one of the kids can read a story of the Sahaabaa so that all family members can be reminded. Or, each family member can speak about the blessings of Allah upon them and what they have in their lives for which they are thankful. Just 15 minutes for the home halaqah. For the entire family, bi idhnillaah, it will be a spring of eman.
To review, the 10 ideas to enhance your Ramadan are:
Idea #1: Compound Your Siyaam!
Idea #2: Operation Guide the Youth
Idea #3: Turnoff TV Month
Idea #4: Du’a Time
Idea #5: Parent Appreciation Month
Idea #6: Masjid Power Hour
Idea #7: Bad Habit Buster
Idea #8: The Gift Groove
Idea #9: Ramadan Muslims, Convert!
Idea #10: Home Halaqah
The past saw Muslims that spent their nights of Ramadan awake praying to Allaah. It saw days where people, for the sake of Allaah, went thirsty. They knew that this season may never return on them and they heard Allaah’s words “Ayyaman Ma’doodaat (a limited number of days).” Don’t let the sand of Ramadan slip away.
by Muhammad AlShareef
Bismillaah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem
In his book, Kitab at-Tawwaabeen, page 285, Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdisi mentions a young lad that came to the great scholar of Ummat Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam – Ibrahim ibn Adham Rahimahullah. This is the conversation that took place between the two:
The Young Lad: O Abu Ishaaq, I am wronging my soul, advise me with something that’ll hold me back from disobeying Allaah and breathe new life into my heart.
Ibrahim ibn Adham: Alright. If you take 5 things from me and fulfill them, you can disobey Allaah ‘azza wa jall all you want and no harm will come to you. The Young Lad: (Interested) Ok, tell me.
Ibrahim ibn Adham: One, if you want to do other than what Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala wants you to do, then do not eat the food that He provides you.
The Young Lad: Then where am I supposed to eat from when all the food on earth is from Allaah?
Ibrahim ibn Adham: Dear lad, is it right that you eat the food Allaah ‘azza wa jall has given you and then go off and disobey him?
The Young Lad: No it is not right. What is the second?
Ibrahim ibn Adham: Two, if you want to live life to the fullest in disobedience of Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala, don’t live on His land.
The Young Lad: That’s harder than the first. Where shall I live when all that is in the east and west belongs to Him?
Ibrahim ibn Adham: Dear lad, is it right that you eat His food and live in His land, yet still insist on turning your cheek when he calls you?
The Young Lad: No it’s not right. What’s the third?
Ibrahim ibn Adham: If you want to disobey Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala, yet still eating the food He gave you and still living in His land, then find a place where He can’t see you.
The Young Lad: O Abu Ishaaq, how can that be so when Allaah is the All-Seeing and All-Knowing of all that happens, even what the heart whispers?
Ibrahim ibn Adham: Dear lad, is it right that you eat His food and live in His land and disobey Him while He watches you and what you are exposing?
The Young Lad: No it’s not right. What’s the fourth?
Ibrahim ibn Adham: When the angel of death comes to snatch your soul, tell him to give you a day so that you can sincerely ask Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala for forgiveness and change your life.
The Young Lad: He won’t agree to that.
Ibrahim ibn Adham: Dear lad, if you find yourself helpless to push off death for just one day and you understand that it cannot be delayed by your wishes, how do you expect to win?
The Young Lad: (With a sigh) What is the fifth?
Ibrahim ibn Adham: When the gatekeepers of Hell come to drag you away on your face to Jahannam (Hellfire) refuse to go with them.
The Young Lad: Nothing will stop them.
Ibrahim ibn Adham: How do you expect to be saved then?
The Young Lad: Enough, Abu Ishaaq. (And he lowers his head crying). O Allaah, forgive me for my transgression.
Epilogue: The young lad went on to become a disciple of Ibrahim ibn Adham. He repented to Allah sincerely and lived an upright life with his teacher until death parted the two.
Imam Ibrahim ibn Adham died in the year 778 CE, over a thousand years ago. May Allah ta’aala forgive the scholars of Ummat Muhammad Rahimahum Allah.
by Muhammad Alshareef
In one of the battles that the Muslims waged against the Romans, the Muslims, under the commandment of Maslamah Rahimahullah, surrounded a city that had a tall and well-fortified wall. The siege went on for months.
Then one night, one of the Muslim soldiers came to General Maslamah and told him of a hole that he had accomplished to make through the wall. “It is only large enough for a slim soldier.” He knelt closer. “Quickly, send with me someone who can squeeze through and fight the army on the inside until he has opened the gates for all of us to enter.”
Maslamah sent out the news and that night someone volunteered. In a sweeping assault, the gate was opened and the Muslims were victorious.
Maslamah, overwhelmed with happiness, sent out the word that the soldier who entered the hole should come forward. No one showed. A day passed and the request was repeated. Another day passed, and then another. No one arrived to take credit.
On the fourth day, a soldier approached Maslamah; his face wrapped in a scarf. He said to him, “I have news of the soldier that entered the hole.”
Maslamah sat up sharp, “Tell me who it is?”
“First, however,” said the soldier, “he has three conditions before exposing himself. Do you agree to this?”
“Of course,” Maslamah said.
“The first is that you do not try to compensate him for what he did. The second is that you do not tell anyone who he is. And the third is that you shall not ask for his presence ever again. Do you agree to these conditions?”
“It is agreed,” Maslamah said.
The soldier, uncovering his scarf, said, “It is I. I went through that hole only for the sake of Allaah.” Then, turning, he walked away.
After that day, Maslamah was often heard praying to Allaah, “O Allaah, (on the Day of Resurrection) grant me companionship with the soldier of the hole.”
Sometimes at an Islamic school, there are children who pray at the back, but the actions are better described as ‘playing’ (no, not with a lisp). Then when the head master, or whoever they consider to have authority above them approaches, they all stand erect in complete devotion.
They are children and Allaah will not take them to account. However, there are many adults that do this exact thing but on a more serious scale. The ingredient that we all need to work on throughout our lives as Muslims is ikhlaas (sincerity); in sha Allaah, that shall be our topic for today.
Sincerity in all we do is a commandment of Allaah
Say, “Indeed my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allaah, Lord of the worlds/ No partner has He. And this I have been commanded and I am the first [among you] of the Muslims” (An‘aam 6/162-163)
In another place, Allaah says:
And they were not commanded except to worship Allaah, sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give zakah. That is the correct deen (Al-Bayyinah 98/5).
In defining ikhlaas, Al-Jurjaani rahimahullah said that it is to not seek any audience for your deeds other than Allaah.
When one looks over the text of the Qur’aan and Sunnah, they will come to the realization that Allaah ta’aala and His Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam speak about sincerity in different aspects:
• Sincerity in Tawheed of Allaah
• Sincerity in our Intentions
• Sincerity in our Worship (salah, sujood, fasting, standing in Ramadan, standing in the night of Qadr)
• Sincere love for the masjid, zakah, sadaqah, Hajj, jihaad, repentance, supplications, recitation of the Qur’aan, and so much more
The Qur’an and Sunnah speak about:
• Sincerity in all our verbal statements
• Sincerity in our defined and upright akhlaaq (character)
• Sincerity in our tawakkul (placing of our trust) in Allaah
• Sincerity in all actions
Allaah subhaanahu wa ta’aala said:
He who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed(Al-Mulk 67/2).
Commenting on this verse, Al-Fudayl ibn ‘Iyaadh rahimahullah said, “It is those deeds which are most correct and most sincere.”
The students asked, “O Abu Ali, what are deeds that are correct and sincere?”
He said, “If a deed is done sincerely, yet is not done correctly, it will not be accepted. And if a deed is done correctly, but not sincerely for Allaah, it will not be accepted. It must be done sincerely and correctly. Sincerely, as in for Allaah alone; correctly, as in accordance to the Sunnah.”
He then recited the verse:
So whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord – let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone (Al-Kahf 18/110).
With ikhlaas we can be saved from misguidance as Prophet Yusuf alayhis salaam was saved. Hear Allaah’s words:
And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our mukhlaseen servants (Yusuf 12/24).
With ikhlaas, the books can be turned in our favor in the last minutes of our lives just as what happened to the man that murdered 99 men. Allaah ta’aala saved him in the end because of his sincerity in repentance.
With ikhlaas one will be saved from Hellfire and granted a lofty position in Jannah.
And they give food out of love [for Allaah ta’aala] to the needy, the orphan and the captive/ [Saying] “We feed you only for the countenance of Allaah, we wish no reward from you nor gratitude/ Indeed, we fear from our Lord a Day severe and distressful.”/ So Allaah will protect them from the evil of that Day and give them radiance and happiness/ And will reward them for what they patiently endured [with] a garden [in Jannah] and silk [garments] (Al- Insan 76/8-12).
Dear brothers and sisters, we must understand that there are certain things that contradict our ikhlaas to Allaah. Of these things are three: riyaa’, sum’ah, and ‘ujb.
Riyaa’ is to perform an act of worship with the intention of showing it off to people, seeking their praise or some other vanity. Thus, this person is seeking to be glorified, praised, hoped for, or feared through this action. An example of this would be donating a large sum of money in order that people may think the contributor is generous.
Sum’ah is similar to riyaa’, but the ‘ulama have said that it is those verbal statements that a person makes for the sake of people. There is the example of someone making ballooned threats against the Jews in Palestine just so others will think he is courageous.
Ibnul Mubaarak rahimahullah said, “Perhaps a great deed is belittled by an intention. And perhaps a small deed, by a sincere intention, is made great.”
‘Ujb is the cousin of riyaa’. It is when a person becomes impressed with himself for the ‘great’ deeds that he has done. This, and all the other types are viruses that can kill our actions and turn them against us on the day of Resurrection.
Ya’qoob Al-Makfoof rahimahullah used to say, “The sincere one is he who hides his good deeds in the same way that he would hide his bad.”
From the Seerah, Sa’ad ibn Waqqaas narrates:
“… as for Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl (after the conquest of Makkah) while escaping by sea, a terrible storm befell them. The owners of the boat shouted, ‘At this moment pray to only God and pray sincerely, for your gods cannot avail us in any way through salvation from this storm.’ Ikrimah said, ‘By Allaah, if ikhlaas can only save me on the sea, then on land nothing but it can save me.’ (He then raised his hands and pronounced), ‘O Allaah if you save me, you have upon me an oath that I shall not rest until I arrive at Muhammad sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam and place my hand in his.”
He then came to RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, became Muslim, and was later martyred in jihaad.
Sincerity is a topic that is not only key to Islam, but it is also a subject that the Kuffar and philosophers have pondered for centuries. The English have a saying that goes to the effect of: To hunt with the lantern of Diogenes.
Diogenes was a cynical Greek philosopher who lived about 320 years before Prophet Eesaa alayhis salam. He believed there was no sincerity in any human being. To vividly prove his point, he was said to have gone about the streets of Corinth in broad daylight with a lighted lantern looking for a sincere man. From here the English coined the term ‘To hunt with the lantern of Diogenes,’ when speaking of a group of people whose sincerity is extremely absent.
Indeed insincerity in our actions is something very dangerous and can lead a person to ruin. Ibn Mas’ood radi Allaahu anhu would advise his students, “If your intention is one of these three, do not seek knowledge: To shame the ignorant, to argue with the Fuqahaa’, or to cause people to turn their faces in your direction. Intend with your actions and words that which is with Allaah, for indeed that which is with Allaah shall remain and everything else shall perish.”
In conclusion, Ibnul Qayyim rahimahullah said, “Deeds without sincerity are like a traveler who carries dirt in his water-jug. The carrying of it burdens him and it brings no benefit.”
May Allaah ta’aala make us all from those whose deeds are done in accordance with the Sunnah, deeds that are done sincerely for the sake of Allaah.
Aasiyah, the wife of Fir’own, had eman in Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala that thrived under the shadow of someone who said, “I am your Lord, Most High!” When news reached Fir’own of his wife’s eman, he beat her and commanded his guards to beat her. They took her out in the scalding noon heat, tied her hands and feet, and beat her perpetually. Who did she turn to? She turned to Allaah! She prayed, “My lord, build for me a home with You in Paradise and save me from Fir’own and his deeds and save me from the transgressive people.”
It was narrated that when she said this, the sky opened for her and she saw her home in Paradise and she smiled. The guards watched in astonishment as she was being tortured but yet smiling. Frustrated, Fir’own commanded a boulder to be brought and dropped on Aasiyah, to crush her to death. But Allaah took her soul before the boulder was brought and she became an example for all the believing men and women until the end of time:
And Allaah has set forth an example for those who believe – the wife of Fir’own – when she said, “My Lord, build for me a home with You in Paradise, and save me from Fir’own and his deeds, and save me from the transgressive, disbelieving people” (At-Tahreem 66/11).
In the hadith of Jibraeel, when he came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and asked him about Islam, eman, and ihsaan, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said about eman:
“Eman is to believe in Allaah, His angels, His books, His messengers, the Final Day, and the divine decree – the good and the bad thereof.”
Today I shall focus on the last article of eman – to believe in the divine decree, the good and the bad thereof.
As you and I travel though life, we find ourselves in one of two situations. Either something good is happening in our lives, in which case as Muslims our role is to thank Allaah for the blessing, or something bad or something we dislike is happening to us, and our role then is to be patient. This is the formula for a happy life, a life cruising towards the pleasure of Allaah.
Sabr (patience) or shukr (gratitude), the worry stops here.
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Strange is the affair of the mu’min (the believer). Verily, all his affairs are good for him. If something pleasing befalls him he thanks (Allaah) and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him he is patient (saabir) and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the mu’min.”
Ibn Al-Jowzee said, “If this dunya was not a station of tests it would not be filled with sicknesses and filth. If life were not about hardship, then the prophets and the pious would have lived the most comfortable of lives. Nay, Adam suffered test after test until he left the dunya. Nuh cried for 300 years. Ibrahim was thrown into a pit of fire and later told to slaughter his son. Ya’qub cried until he became blind. Musa challenged Fir’own and was tested by his people. Eesa had no provision except the morsels his disciples provided him with (peace be upon them). And Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)met poverty with patience as his uncle, one of the most beloved relatives to him, was slain and mutilated and his people disbelieved in him … and the list of prophets and the pious goes on and on.”
What happens to us happens by the will of Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala. It is an article of our eman that we believe in qada’ and qadr and that we are pleased with Allaah’s choice. Good or seemingly bad, it is all the test of this dunya. How can we imagine that we shall not be tested when those who were better than us suffered what they suffered? They, however, came away with the pleasure of Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala.
Al Hasan ibn Arafah narrated that he visited Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal after he was whipped and tortured. He said to him, “O Abu Abdillaah, you have reached the station of the Prophets!”
He said, “Keep quiet. Verily, I saw nothing more than people selling their deen and I saw scholars that were with me sell their faith. So I said to myself, ‘Who am I, what am I? What am I going to say to Allaah tomorrow when I stand in front of Him and He asks me, ‘Did you sell your deen like the others did?'”
He continued, “So I looked at the whip and the sword and chose them. And I said, ‘If I die, I shall return to Allaah and say that I was told to say that one of Your Characteristics was something created but I did not. ‘ After that, it will be up to Him – either to punish me or be Merciful to me.”
Al-Hasan ibn Arafah then asked, “Did you feel pain when they whipped you?”
He said, “Yes, I felt the pain up to 20 lashes then I lost all feeling (They whipped him over eighty times). After it was over I felt no pain and that day I prayed Dhuhr standing.”
Al-Hasan ibn Arafah started weeping when he heard what had happened. Imam Ahmad questioned him, “Why are you crying? I did not lose my eman. After that why should I care if I lose my life?”
These people were better than us, but this was how they were tested.
There some facts about the tests of life, the good and the bad that befalls us:
1. Much of what befalls us is the direct result of our own sins. Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala says:
And whatever misfortune befalls you it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much (Ash-Shura 42/30).
Muhammad ibn Seereen used to say when his debts piled up and he felt sad, “I know that the cause of this sadness is a sin I committed over 40 years ago.”
2. People understand that when something bad happens it is a test from Allah ‘azza wa jall. But dear brothers and sisters, the good things that happen to us are also a test. Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala says:
And we tested them with good (blessings) and evil (calamities) in order that they might turn back (Al-A’raf 7/168).
Abd alMalik ibn Ishaq said, “There is no one that is not tested with health and prosperity to measure how thankful he is.”
And the Companion AbdurRahman ibn ‘Awf radi Allahu anhu said, “We were tested with hardship and were patient. And then we were tested with prosperity and we were not patient. Because of this Allaah states:
O ye who believe! Let not your wealth or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allaah. And whosoever does that, then they are the losers (Al-Munafiqun 63/9).
3. Patience must happen from the beginning, not three days later or one day later, but rather at the first news of the calamity. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Verily patience (is only sabr when practiced) at the first hit (of news).”
4. There are things that contradict sabr. Tearing ones shirt, for example, slapping ones face, slapping hands, shaving ones head, and cursing and wailing. Umm Salamah radi Allaahu anha narrates that she heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say:
“Any Muslim who says when a calamity befalls him that which Allaah commanded him: ‘To Allaah we belong and to him we return. O Allaah reward me in this calamity and give me better then it’ – Allaah will grant him better than (that which he lost) (Muslim).”
5. These tests and hardships wash away our sins. Aisha radi Allaahu anha said, “Verily, fever sheds sins like a tree sheds leaves.”
6. The hardships that befall us distinguish the believers from the insincere. Shumayt ibn Ajlaan said, “The pious and the ungrateful are hidden by health. Yet when calamities befall, the two men are separated (by how they react).”
Allaah ‘azza wa jall says in the Quran:
Alif laam meem. Do people think that they will be left alone because they say, “We believe,” and will not be tested? Indeed We tested those who (lived) before them (Al-Ankaboot 29/1-3)
Ali radi Allaahu anhu said, “Verily sabr is to eman what the head is to the body. When the head is cut off, the body falls. (He then raised his voice) Verily there is no eman for he who has no sabr (patience).”
There are three types of sabr that the Muslim must have:
1. Sabr in the obedience of Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala. For example, one must be patient and perform their Fajr salah at it’s appointed time.
2. Sabr in not disobeying Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala. For example, someone might be upset at another person and think, “I just have to insult him.” No, rather we are commanded by He who gave us our tongues not to follow the whispers of Shaytaan. We must have sabr in not disobeying Allaah.
3. Sabr in what Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala decrees on us. For example, if our child was to pass away we should be patient and seek the reward of Allaah in our patience and say only that which is pleasing to Allaah.
There are two keys which, if we understand them, we shall open the door to sabr in our lives:
The first key: know that our souls, families and wealth do not belong to us, they belong to Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala. He gave them to us as a loan to see what we would do with them. When he takes them back, He is taking back what belongs to Him. We had nothing before the blessing and we’ll have nothing after it. We did not create the blessing from nothing, so how can we claim that it belongs to us?
The second key: We are on a journey and the destination is the Hereafter – Paradise or Hell. We shall be leaving the dunya behind us and we will return back to Allaah by ourselves. This is what needs our focus. If Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala is pleased with us then no worry. If He is not pleased with us then all worry.
Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala revealed:
Guard strictly the (five obligatory) prayers, especially the middle salah and stand before Allaah in obedience (Al-Baqarah 2/238).
The verses before this aayah deal with divorce. The verses after it deal with divorce. So why was this verse placed in the middle?
The ‘ulama have suggested, wa Allaahu ta‘aala ‘alim, that in the hard times that a person goes through (especially in a divorce) he should not forget the remembrance of Allaah, the salah. It is that salah, coupled with sabr, that will pull him through the difficulty.
O you who believe! Seek help in patience and salah. Truly, Allaah is with those that are patient (Al-Baqarah 2/153).
In conclusion, Allaah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala gives the following good news:
And give good news to the patient / who, when afflicted with calamity say, “Truly, to Allaah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” / They are those on whom the salawat (i.e. the blessing and forgiveness) of their Lord is upon them, and who shall receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones (Al-Baqarah 2/155-157).
Allaah promises anyone who wants to work on his or her patience three things: forgiveness, mercy, and guidance. Who could ask for more?